There should be a Nobel Prize for science awarded to whoever calculates the mega-tonnes of pollutants pumped into the atmosphere each Monday by cars lined up for cheap petrol.
Hopefully these scientific geniuses will stand next to the as-yet- undiscovered econometric guru who solves the complex commercial, market and shopper docket puzzle behind greater Perth’s fuel price cycles.
It needs some hardcore scientific analysis because the metropolitan fuel cycle is creating queues and energy wastage that would have left even Soviet car industry patron Nikita Khrushchev aghast.
While petrol prices in eastern seaboard capitals can move on an hourly basis but are generally traced in long cycles, the Perth metropolitan and parts of the Peel region have an unusual weekly cycle that creates mad Mondays.
The WA metropolitan fuel cycle is seeing service stations charging upwards up of 30¢ less for petrol on Mondays than Tuesdays, and as much as 10¢ more on the weekend than the first day of the working week.
Dominant WA fuel player Caltex, which has its own stores and in the Woolworths network, has been blamed for instigating the Tuesday to Monday petrol cycle in mid-2015 but its supposed rivals have been glad to pedal along for about 180 rides.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reckons WA’s FuelWatch scheme has “influenced” the creation of the unusual petrol price cycle in greater Perth.
FuelWatch requires petrol station operators to tell the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety by 2pm each day the price they will be charging for fuel for 24 hours from 6am the following day.
The ACCC estimates motorists who fill up once a week and always fill up on the cheapest day of the week could save themselves $520 over filling up at the same petrol station on the most expensive day.
The Federal competition regulator estimates about one-quarter of Perth petrol sales take place on Monday.
That means up to 25 per cent of Perth motorists are willing to line up like a babushka outside a Soviet food queue to save a few dollars each week on their petrol bill.
At least the old lady waiting in line in the Moscow queue had rugged up for the occasion and was basically just using the little energy she had left from last week’s bread and potato ration to keep herself warm.
Perth drivers waiting in line in the extremes of our summer and the extreme of our winter run their car on idle for upwards of 15 minutes with the air-conditioner pumping and stereo blasting waiting to save a few cents on petrol.
Now I’m going to get started on my Nobel Prize thesis.
The Canadian Government indicates a two-litre engine would waste about 1.2 litres of petrol for every hour of idling.
And each litre of petrol burnt produces about 2.3kg of carbon dioxide.
Based on your 15-minute wait idling in your well-serviced Mitsubishi Lancer LS at Woolworths last Monday, you would have used 300ml of petrol and pumped about 575g of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The means your car has sucked about 418 grams of perfectly good oxygen out of the surrounding area and pumped it back into the atmosphere attached to 157 grams of carbon from your burnt petrol.
Then there is all the other rubbish pumped into the neighbourhood from car exhaust pipes, particularly on older or poorly maintained vehicles.
Pumping your own private hole in the ozone layer might be excusable
if you were really saving $500-plus a year by queuing like my beloved babushka.
But we are not Soviet Russia and we do have choice in Perth.
FuelWatch records show my local Caltex Woolworths at Morley and Mirrabooka were selling unleaded petrol for 117.5¢ a litre on Monday.
The Mirrabooka store cranked the price up to 149.9¢ on Tuesday, whereas Morley wooed Galleria departees with a bargain basement 116.9¢ a litre.
Someone who got sucked into paying 32.4¢ a litre extra at Mirrabooka on Tuesday would only have to pump 30 litres of ULP per week to be $500 out of pocket each year.
But someone who filled up at Mirrabooka Woolworths on Saturday would have only paid 117.9¢ — 0.4¢ a litre more than the Monday price — while someone filling up on Sunday would have still paid only 123.3¢ a litre.
The Better Choice outlet on my way home from work in Tuart Hill was consistently charging 123.7¢ a litre last week.
Someone paying 6¢ a litre above the lowest price for the week and using 50 litres a week would be a little over $150 a year out of pocket for missing the Monday madness.
While I am confident I have the beginning of two Nobel Prize theses (pronounced thee-sees), the fuel price information is freely available to anyone who cares to look on FuelWatch.
Extracted from The West